One of the greatest television shows of all time. Set during the Korean war, it is about 2 doctors, Captains Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre (who was later replaced by BJ Hunnicut) and their unorthodox ways of dealing with the hardships during the war. One of their more frequent pastimes was harassing Major Frank Burns (later replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester III) and his girlfriend, the blonde nurse, Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Hoolihan. The commanding officer was Colonel Henry Blake (later replaced by Colonel Sherman Potter), a nervous doctor that seemed to drink a little too much (in my opinion). Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly was the company clerk. His nickname stemmed from his ability to know things before they happened. The corpsman, Corporal Max Klinger, was always trying to get himself discharged from the army with a Section 8 by always wearing women's dresses.

The first of many novels written by Richard Hooker M.D., which bases his personal experiences from the Korean War. Hooker based the character Captain Hawkeye Pierce after himself.

A very succesful movie was spawned from this, directed by Robert Altman and starring Robert Duval, Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland and others.

The television series based on the movie ran for roughly a decade (1972-1983), and introduced other characters such as Capt. B.J. Hunnicut (not spelled as Honeycut or Honnicut). Gary Burghoff, who starred as Radar O'Reilly, was the only actor that starred in both the movie and television series. The show's final episode back in 1983 had more viewers then the final episode of Seinfeld in 1998.

Atari 2600 Game
Produced by: 20th Century Fox
Model Number: 11011
Rarity: 3 Scarce
Year of Release: 1983
Programmer: Frank Cohen and Doug Neubauer
You are Hawkeye Pierce, Chief Medical Surgeon of the 4077th MASH. Your responsibilities include rescuing injured men from the battlefield, performing surgery in the operating room, or, in an alternative game, picking up Colonel Potter's skydiving medics. You pilot your chopper low through the trees, avoiding shells fired at you from a North Korean tank. After picking up the medics ORR wounded and rushing them back to the hospital, the pressure really starts to get heavy. Time is running out for the injured men and you must operate. You have to work fast. You are competing with your fellow surgeons, either B.J. Hunnicut, Trapper John McIntyre or Frank Burns.

There are certain things that always remain constant in the video game industry. One of those things is the fact that games based on movies and television shows are usually not very good. M*A*S*H for the Atari 2600 made no attempts to change that fact. This could have been a good game, but it tries to combine two unrelated subjects (helicopter piloting and surgery), and ends up being mediocre at both of them. The game alternates between two screens, the piloting screen and the surgery screen.

The Piloting Screen

The piloting screen has you controlling a helicopter in an attempt to rescue wounded soldiers. There are two base camps to the left of the screen, and there are always two helipcopters in action. You control the blue copter, while the yellow one is considered to be your rival. Who is actually in the other copter changes from level to level, the manual can tell you if you really need to know who is piloting the the yellow pixel copter at any given time.

The wounded soldiers are scattered among the trees on the right hand side of the screen. Just run into them and they will be loaded onto your helicopter. Now all that would be too easy, so there are a few things to get in your way. The most annoying obstacle is the trees themselves, apparently these helicopters are mildly defective, as they cannot fly over a tree, they must fly around them instead. Your other obstacles include the other helicopter and a little Korean tank that goes back and forth at the bottom of the screen trying to shoot your helicopter. When you collect enough wounded you will advance to the next screen.

The Surgery Screen

This is where the game begins to fall apart. The surgery screen is essentially the board game "Operation" translated to the Atari 2600. It seems that very little effort was put into this. You simply remove an infection with your tweezers, only to have it immediately replaced by another infection somewhere else. This part of the game has a real feeling of hopelessness associated with it, because it seems that you can't ever actually finish operating on anyone, the time always runs out with an infection still in the patient. You go back to the helicopter screen after about 20 to 30 seconds of operation.

Collectors Information

This game is valued at around $5 USD. Games with boxes and manuals are worth more. The box to this game was the standard black 20th Century Fox box, and it bore a sem-realistic picture of four medics rushing away from a tent, with a helicopter in the background. None of the people in the picture seem to be identifiable as anyone on the television show.

This game originally came with a medium sized M*A*S*H t-shirt as a pack in bonus. The game also included an entry form for the "$25,000 M*A*S*H game design contest". It is unknown if anyone actually ever collected the prize. It seems that only the original run of the game came with the shirt and contest, later releases did not.

The best trait this show has is its ability to swap from extreme comedy (the kind that hurts your stomach the more you try to stop laughing), to drama which doesn't just apply to medics in the Korean war; it's usually something everyone can imagine happening to themselves. The show sometimes switches from the two extremes scene by scene.

Last night I was watching the show: one of the doctor's fathers was going into an operation back in America, and the father hadn't told the son. The doctor spent all day trying to get through to him, to speak to his father before the operation. He went from one operator to the next, saying his name, saying who he was trying to get through to. After being on the phone - completely stressed out - all day, he just misses him. He didn't think he'd ever speak to his father again. I didn't think he would either, and I felt pretty sad: much more sad than I'd ever felt watching anything on new tv shows.

And throughout all this, there's some top-quality humor in between scenes.

The original book, M*A*S*H, was written in 1970 by Richard Hooker and based on his own experiences as a doctor in the Korean War. Although he had difficulty finding a publisher for that book, its success enabled him to follow it up with 1973's M*A*S*H Goes To Maine, and in 1975 wrote books that took the characters to London, New Orleans, and Paris. 1976 saw the publishing of five more books, including M*A*S*H Goes To Vienna, to Miami, to Morocco, to Hollywood and to Las Vegas. In 1977 Hooker wrote M*A*S*H Goes To San Francisco, and at some point during the 1970s also wrote adventures for the group in Texas and Montreal. He finished the set with M*A*S*H Mania in 1979.

Several other books have been written about M*A*S*H, including Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America by James Wittebols, 1997's Secrets of the M*A*S*H Mess by Jeff Maxwell, The Complete Book of M*A*S*H by Suzy Kalter. Actors and producers have also written books about their involvement in the series, including Larry Gelbart's Laughing Matters: M*A*S*H and Other Notes, William Christopher's Mixed Blessings, and Jamie Farr's Just Farr Fun. Three or four trivia quiz books have also been published, as have other books about and guides to the series.

The 1970 movie, MASH, starred Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, and Tom Skerritt. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, but won only for Best Screenplay. The movie also received the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy, and the Golden Palm Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

The movie's theme song, "Suicide is Painless," was reused for the 1972 M*A*S*H TV series (as was actor Gary Burghoff). Starring Alan Alda, Harry Morgan, and at least a dozen others, the show ran until 1983 - a longer run than the Korean War itself - and had an extremely large following. Disguised as a sitcom, the show delivered commentary on the Vietnam War and the ambivalence of most Americans toward that conflict. The last episode, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" drew record numbers of viewers. The series won a number of Emmy and Golden Globe awards and was followed by the 1983 show AfterM*A*S*H.

A M*A*S*H video game for the Atari 2600 was also produced.

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